Wetson's

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Wetson's
Industryfast-food restaurants
Fateclosed
Founded1959
Founder(s)Herbert Wetanson
Defunct1975
HeadquartersNew York, California, U.S
Number of locations70 (at its peak)
Productshamburgers
 
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Wetson's
Industryfast-food restaurants
Fateclosed
Founded1959
Founder(s)Herbert Wetanson
Defunct1975
HeadquartersNew York, California, U.S
Number of locations70 (at its peak)
Productshamburgers

Wetson's was an American fast food hamburger chain[1] which existed from 1959 to 1975. At its peak, Wetson's had approximately 70 locations in the greater New York metropolitan area, including Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream, Staten Island (at 1767 Forest Ave, now Firestone's auto next to Wendy's), 1525 Hylan Blvd (now Mr. Bargain auto parts),(2875 Richmond Avenue, in the Richmond shopping center next to Pathmark), a branch in Hicksville on Old Country Road (now a Dunkin Donuts, in an all new building) and one in Commack (on Jericho Turnpike). There were Wetson's in Brooklyn at 7th Avenue and 86th Street (where Nathan's is today) and Bay Parkway and Shore Parkway(where Wendy's is now). For many years beginning in 1963 there was a Wetson's in Hazlet, NJ at the Airport Plaza Shopping Center. The nearest McDonalds at the time was 6.6 miles away in Middletown, NJ so it prospered for years. Wetsons had a branch in Pine Brook New Jersey, where Hook Mountain Road meets Route 46. That site is occupied by a Wendys restaurant today. Another Wetsons was located in Lodi New Jersey.

The chain was known for its signature burger, the "Big W", as well as 15-cent burgers, 10-cent fries, and the slogans "Look for the Orange Circles" and "Buy them by the bagful", phrases similar to the McDonald's slogan "Look for the Golden Arches" and White Castle's "Buy 'em by the sack". Wetson's also had two clown mascots in the style of McDonald's Ronald McDonald, named Wetty (female) and Sonny (male). The "Big W" was similar to today's Burger King Whopper. Wetsons also sold breakfast sandwiches.


History[edit]

Herb Wetanson started the Wetson’s Hamburger chain. It began when Herb was a 19 year old soldier in the United States Army. While on a road trip to California passing through San Bernardino, Herb happened to stop by the original McDonalds Hamburger Drive In restaurant, owned and operated by the McDonalds brothers. Having grown up working in his father Carl Wetanson’s restaurants, Herb was drawn to this new and unique style of what has now become known as “fast food” restaurant. Recognizing Herb’s enthusiasm in the business, the McDonald brothers were kind enough to show Herb around. Herb quickly realized that this type of restaurant would be a perfect fit back home on Long Island, where at that time there were no drive in restaurants.

Upon arriving home from the service, Herb immediately began scouting locations for Long Island’s first 15 cent hamburger drive in restaurant. Recognizing the Levittown area of Long Island shared a similar post war demographic to that of San Bernardino, he focused his search there. Herb found a closed Mayflower coffee and donut shop located at 3946 Hempstead Turnpike Levittown and along with his younger brother Errol Wetanson, chose this as their first location. Investing his life savings and a loan from his mother Grace construction began. Sporting huge orange circles instead of McDonalds golden arches, in 1959 the first Wetson’s was opened. Herb’s instincts were correct and the restaurant flourished.

Almost one year later when Herb was ready to open his second Wetson’s, his father Carl Wetanson invested in and came to work alongside his two sons, making him the third Wetanson in the business. Carl supervised office and construction management, leaving Herb and Errol free to oversee operations and the growth of the concept. Five years later, Herbs Uncle, Harold Norbitz joined the team as Vice President. People came from all over Long Island to enjoy 15 cent hamburgers and 10 cent French fries and soft drinks. Lines were a daily occurrence, the restaurant thrived and the concept grew. Wetson’s at its peak had expanded to over 70 locations in the 5 boroughs, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Fairfield Connecticut and Eastern New Jersey.

After selling Wetson’s, Herb opened the now famous Dallas BBQ restaurants. Joined by his son Greg Wetanson and recently his grandson Stuart Wetanson, the Dallas BBQ restaurant chain now has 11 locations in the five boroughs of New York City. The Wetansons also established the ever popular Tony’s DiNapoli “Family Style” Italian restaurants, with locations in Times Square and the Upper East Side of New York. The Wetanson family restaurants are some of the most successful restaurants in the New York Metro area, making the Wetansons one of the most successful families in the challenging New York City restaurant arena.

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